Marquette 101: Discovering this Cold-Hardy Grape

Never heard of Marquette? You are not the only one. This young grape variety may not be well-known but is steadily gaining popularity.  

First off, Marquette is a hybrid grape. Unfortunately, hybrid grapes can be tricky to get recognition within the wine industry. In Ontario, for example, Marquette is not on the list of permitted grape varieties for VQA Ontario eligible wines.

The good news is that this is currently under review. Through the VQA Ontario Stakeholder Consultation dated September 25, 2018, one of the proposals was to add Marquette on the list of permitted hybrid grape varieties. We will need to stay tuned for developments regarding  this proposal.

The vast majority of wine we currently drink belong to the Vitis Vinifera family. To get a hybrid grape, you typically cross Vitis Vinifera grapes with other Vitis species.

Hybrid varieties can be more resistant to the cold and diseases and offer an alternative to Vitis Vinifera grapes in climates where the weather is too cold for these grapes to thrive such as Eastern Canada.

Marquette was created by Peter Hemstad and James Luby at the University of Minnesota’s Horticultural Research Center. It originated from a cross made in 1989 between the University of Minnesota’s hybrid grape variety ‘MN 1094’ and the French hybrid grape variety ‘Ravat 262’, sometimes referred as Ravat Noir.

‘MN 1094’ was derived from a complex mix of Vitis Riparia, Vitis Vinifera, and lesser amounts of several other Vitis species. ‘Ravat 262’ was derived from a complex mix of several Vitis species and Pinot Noir is of its parents.

Marquette produces bluish-black fruit that is resistant to the cold. It also has good resistance to common grape diseases including downy mildew, powdery mildew, and black rot. 

Marquette grapes are high in sugar and have good acidity levels. Wines made from Marquette are typically ruby coloured with both aromas and flavours of cherry, berry, black pepper, and spice. In comparison to other cold-hardy red hybrid grapes, wine made from Marquette frequently has more pronounced and perceivable tannins.  

The deadline for industry stakeholders to provide feedback on the proposed changes that includes the addition of Marquette will be on December 15, 2018. This does not mean that if the feedback received is positive and that the VQA Board of Directors support the addition of Marquette, it will automatically be added.

I was informed by the VQA that if the Board of Directors recommends the proposed changes to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services for approval, then the Ministry may wish to conduct their own industry consultations. Regardless of whether it gets approved or not, this proposal is a step in the right direction for this grape has all the potential to produce high quality wine.


13.5% alcohol./vol

Visually, this wine is a dark ruby colour with a lighter violet rim.  First thing I smell is rose petals, followed by juicy aromas of black cherry and plum, and lots of dark chocolate, with mushroom, black olive, cinnamon, and hints of white pepper.  This wine is light to medium bodied and has this mouth-watering tartness with its crunchy young  plum and sour cherry flavours. It also has notes of sweet spice and dark cocoa. The tannins are smooth and the flavours linger.

Wine-Food Pairing: This wine goes well with pasta in a fresh tomato sauce, mushroom risotto, and a charcuterie board that includes olives and nuts.

Another example of Marquette is the following from Etter that I had reviewed for my blog:  Interview with Jan-Daniel Etter of Clos du Vully. It is a different style and blended with a few other varieties. This one has more body and although tart, it does not have the mouth-watering acidity found in the Marquette from Karlo Estates.

13.5% alcohol./vol

Made from 75% estate grown Marquette, and a blend of 25% Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Shiraz, this ruby coloured Red has aromas of  black plum, violet, and sour cherry, as well as hints of wet cedar, red licorice, smoke, and roasted cocoa beans.

On the palate, it has tart black plum and sour cherry flavours with a smoky finish. It is medium bodied with wonderful acidity and is truly a lovely wine.

Wine-Food Pairing: This wine would pair well with barbecued steak, grilled pork, or roasted duck. Continue reading “Marquette 101: Discovering this Cold-Hardy Grape”

Chateau Grange Cochard Morgon Vielles Vignes 2014


I am surprised that this wine has 13% alcohol as it doesn’t feel like it has that much, and it certainly doesn’t taste like it. This light bodied Red made from Gamay is juicy on the palate, fresh, and the tannins are silky smooth.

On the nose, we have aromas of violet, dark cherry, and plum with hints of black pepper, sweet spice, and milk chocolate. The juicy fruit aromas follow through on the palate as well as a touch of cloves and cinnamon.

Tasted October 2018

Score: 88

Wine-Food Pairing: Good on its own. I paired mine with tuna steak grilled on a charcoal barbecue. It was delicious! This would also pair well with roasted pork.

Bouvet Excellence Brut Crémant de Loire


This straw coloured crémant has delicate aromas of baked apple, crème brûlée, freshly baked bread, citrus, and almond.

It is medium bodied and creamy on the palate, with flavours of lemon, baked pie crust, and almond at the finish.

Tasted October 2018

Wine-Food Pairing: Great on its own, with pan-seared fish, or fried seafood or vegetable appetizers.

Score: 89

Primarius Pinot Noir 2015



This Pinot Noir from Oregon has a beautiful ruby colour in the glass. It is elegant and fragrant with aromas of plum and sour cherry, along with delicate floral notes, subtle underwood, earthy beets, leather, and sweet spice. On the palate, it is light bodied with silky tannins and flavours of sour cherry, tart plum, cranberry, and floral notes with a slightly bitter finish.

Tasted October 2018.

Wine and Food Pairing: Roasted turkey, roasted duck, salmon.

Score: 90

Wolfberger Crémant d’Alsace Brut


Straw coloured with delicate bubbles. Aromas of baked pear, apple pie, biscuit, and spearmint. Flavours of baked apple, biscuit, citrus, and mint with a bitter and lingering nutty finish. Medium bodied and very creamy on the palate.

Tasted October 2018

Wine-Food Pairing: Enjoyable on its own, with fried chicken, or with other salty fried food.

Score: 89


Bite Burger House Makes A Tasty Burger

By Melanie Lloyd

I recently had a lunch date at Bite Burger House, located at 108 Murray Street in downtown Ottawa. The ambiance was cozy and laid back. The service was friendly and the food was savoury and succulent.

I ordered the Double Bite Me, which is a juicy double beef patty served with double smoked bacon and Cheddar cheese on a fresh brioche bun.

This was quite the burger! OMG! The beef patties had a nice fresh flavour and the meat was moist and grilled to perfection. I could taste that it was made with real ingredients. It was so enjoyable!

My husband ordered the El Gringo which is a beef patty with chorizo, guacamole, pico de gallo, and cilantro sour cream.

I had a couple of bites of his burger and loved the flavour combo. It had just the right amount of spice as to not take away from the other flavours. We both paired our meal with truffle fries, so delicious!

The drink menu was compact while being versatile. I could see right away that it was well thought out, with a good selection of craft beer, cocktails, and wine.

Sometimes I go to a restaurant and find that the wine list doesn’t match the food being served in the restaurant. This was definitely not the case with Bite Burger House. There were many great choices for wine and burger pairing.

The drink menu changes from time to time. This wine list included Torres Campos Ibéricos Tempranillo 2015 from Rioja, Spain, which I ordered to pair with my burger.

On the nose, this red wine is fruit forward with aromas of tart blackberry, plum, as well as subtle red berry notes, tobacco, cigar box, dark roasted cocoa, and smoke. On the palate, there are blackberry and plum flavours with dark chocolate at the finish. This is a medium to full bodied wine with gentle tannins and fresh acidity.  

The smoke in the wine matched the smoke in my burger and the flavours of both paired well together. The wine also paired amazingly with the El Gringo burger. The spice of the burger enhanced the flavours of the wine.

If you are craving a burger, this place is totally worth checking out. The handcrafted hamburgers are very satisfying! Word of caution:  If you order the Double Bite Me, such as I did, you will likely be leaving with a doggy bag as it is a huge burger.  Bring your appetite!

M XX270 Syrah 2015


When I first tried this wine, I ran back to the LCBO to get more bottles. I enjoyed it very much. This full-bodied Corsica Syrah has dark fruit aromas with violet, subtle wood, vanilla, and just a hint of sharp cheese but not in a negative way.

On the palate, it has velvety tannins and flavours of juicy blueberry, cassis, wood, and smoke.

Tasted September 2018

Wine-Food Pairing: Barbecued Steak. I had mine with a 5-layer Mexican dip and it paired wonderfully.

Score: 91

LCBO M XX270 2015

Castello Di Albola Chianti Classico 2013


This Chianti Classico is fruit forward with aromas of blueberry, cassis, blackberry, cherry, and red berries. In addition to fruit on the nose,  it also has cinnamon, floral notes, earthy beets, and chocolate.

On the palate, it is medium bodied with silky tannins. The flavours are of dark berries and dark chocolate. The floral quality is also present in terms of flavours.

Tasted September 2018

Score: 89

Wine-Food Pairing: I enjoyed mine with a barbecued  black bean burger served with spicy mayonnaise. This would pair just as well with barbecued pork chops, or with Italian sausage penne.

LCBO Castello Di Albola Chianti Classico 2013


What Wine to Drink With Comfort Food!

As the weather drops, nothing sooths the soul like comfort food and a yummy glass of wine.  Here are my recommendations on wine to pair with some of my favourite comfort meals.


Give me ooey gooey macaroni and cheese on a crisp day.  Mine includes old Cheddar, Mozzarella, and Swiss. I always add an extra layer of cheese on top prior to baking to have a nice cheesy crust and to add texture.  Something about mac and cheese brings happy childhood memories and is one of my ultimate favourites on a cold and damp day.

Suggested Wine Pairing:


This White has enough body to match the richness of the meal while the acidity of the wine cuts through the fat nicely.  If your mac and cheese includes lots of smoky cheese, then an oaked Chardonnay could work too.   I paired my macaroni and cheese with:

The Grange of Prince Edward County Unoaked Chardonnay 2013:

This wine has dried apricot, pineapple, and bruised apple on the nose, as well as almond and mushroom. On the palate, there is pineapple flavours with lemon and bitter walnut. It is creamy, has good acidity, and the flavours linger.


This popular Indian meal is one of the dishes I crave most during colder weather. It is so savoury and satisfying.

Suggested Wine Pairing: 


The wine is flavourful enough to hold up to the decadent flavours of the meal. The touch of sweetness balances the kick of spice and the acidity works well with cutting through the richness of the dish. I paired my butter chicken with: 

Château des Charmes Old Vine Riesling 2015:

On the nose, this wine has loads of mineral notes and limestone as well as gentle aromas of pineapple, peach, green apple, lime, and a touch of sweet spice. The minerality comes through on the palate, along with pineapple and lemon flavours. It is very tart with just a tiny hint of sweetness.


My vegetarian chili is tomato based and includes chili powder and just enough cayenne pepper to give a touch of spice.  It is savoury without being too heavy or spicy.

Suggested Wine Pairing:


With this type of meal, a medium bodied Chianti Classico pairs wonderfully. The body of the wine matches the meal. Both the wine and chili are light enough so that they do not overpower the other. Also, tomatoes love Chianti as they pair so nicely together. The acidity in the wine brings the right amount of spice out of the chili. If the meal had been very spicy, however, a wine with some residual sugar would have paired better. For this dish, the wine I chose is:

Coli Chianti Classico 2016:

This Chianti is very affordable and is quite tasty. It has aromas of plum and blueberry, as well as cinnamon, chocolate, and smoke. On the palate, it is medium bodied with velvety tannins and invigorating acidity. The flavours are of tart plum, sweet spice and a touch of smoke.


Interview with Jan-Daniel Etter of Clos du Vully

By Melanie Lloyd

Jan-Daniel Etter at Clos du Vully

I recently had the opportunity to interview Jan-Daniel Etter of Vignoble Clos du Vully located in Navan.

Jan-Daniel is passionate about winemaking, full of life, and articulate. As I was interviewing him, I couldn’t help but think what a wonderful guest he would make on any television or radio show. Listening to him talk about his wine to the other patrons was like listening to an artist speak about their artwork.

Here is my Q&A with Jan Daniel, followed by my impressions of some of the bottles sampled.

Question: How did you discover you wanted to be a Winemaker?

Jan-Daniel: My background is in farming. I grew up on a dairy farm in Eastern Ontario. After my studies, I worked a couple of years on my family’s farm and discovered I wasn’t passionate enough about dairy farming to make a career out of it. I knew, however, that I wanted to stay in the farming business one way or the other.

It happens that we have grape growers on my mother’s side of the family in Switzerland. I was invited by my cousin to harvest for the first time in 2005. I gladly accepted his offer and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. There was great family spirit and everyone was helping out.

In 2007, my cousin invited me to be an assistant winemaker. He’s a oenologist who studied at Changins, a reputable oenology school in Switzerland. Under his tutorage, I started learning the winemaking side of things. I continued returning to Switzerland every fall until 2011.

Back at home, in the spring of 2008, I planted my first 240 plants of Frontenac Rouge. We decided that if the plants survived the winter, we would go full-scale into plantation of vine plants. Every single vine survived that first winter.

In 2009, we planted 1200 plants of Frontenac Rouge, Marquette, and Frontenac Gris. Then, in 2012, four years after planting my first grapes, I had my first harvest big enough to start the vinification process.

Question: What are some key differences between growing grapes and making wine in Navan when compared to Vully?

Jan-Daniel: In Vully, they grow exclusively Vitis Vineferra grapes, the traditional European grape variety. In our case, we decided that we are better suited to use hybrid grapes which are a cross between Vitis Vineferra grapes from Europe and native, indigenous grape species from North America.

These grapes are much more resistant to the cold and will survive anywhere from -30 to -40 degrees Celsius. They are more resistant to diseases, mainly Powdery Mildew, Botrytis, and Downy Mildew. Hybrid grapes are a lot less work which means less investment in equipment and manpower, and a better chance of having a regular crop every year.

At the same time, being in Ontario, we have access to premium quality grapes from Niagara which are considered local as long as it’s within the province of Ontario.

In our opinion, we have the best of both worlds. First, we have the unique flavours coming from the hybrid grapes and the reliability of harvest year after year. Then, we have the power and quality of product coming from the Niagara grapes.

Question: What are some of the unique challenges you face with the cold climate? How do you overcome these challenges?

Jan-Daniel: Our biggest challenge here is the frost, mainly the late spring frost, and the fall frost to a lesser extent. To prevent this, we chose to plant our grapes in elevated sites. Usually, the cold will drop to the low lands and to lower linear areas. Being higher up protects us.

We also use high cordon pruning. Typically, the majority of winemakers grow grapes in vertical shoot positioning where they have grapes growing three feet over the ground and then shoots growing upwards.

In our case, we have the main trunk at about 5 to 5 1/2 feet tall, and then the branches go downwards so that fruit is at the top and the vegetation goes down. The reason we do this is to be higher up in elevation. The higher we are, the farther we are from the frost.

Another reason we use this method is because the sap takes longer to reach the end of the trunk so budding will be delayed by a couple of days. Sometimes those few days make the difference between loosing your buds and being able to survive a cold episode.

Question: What wine makes you most proud?

Jan-Daniel: I am most proud of our Fortified White called Cuvée Éliane, named after my mother. It’s the only wine we make that is produced from 100% homegrown estate grapes. Produced from 70% Frontenac Blanc and 30% Frontenac Gris, it is made in a style of a White Port and is candy in a bottle. It’s aged 6 month in oak barrels, followed by 6 months in stainless steel tanks. On the nose, we have honey and beeswax, and on the palate, we have honey, pineapple, and a long pear finish. This wine  pairs very well with strong blue cheese.

Question: What is your bestseller?

Jan-Daniel: Cuvée Caroline is our best seller because it’s so versatile and fruit forward. Made from two-thirds Petite Pearl and one-third Cabernet Franc, it has a beautiful smoky nose. The nose comes in part from the recoopered barrels, and in part from the grapes.


Here are my personal notes on a few of the Clos du Vully bottles sampled. Pictured above is the full range of wines available at Clos du Vully, minus the Viognier, which is currently sold out.


Named after Jan-Daniel’s niece, this bright, pale yellow wine is made from 32% Chardonnay, 30% Vidal, 30% Frontenac Blanc, and 8% Riesling. On the nose, there are aromas of red apple and oak, as well as herbal notes, honey, petrol, and hints of almond.

On the palate, we find tart lemon, apple, and pineapple flavours, and a slightly nutty finish. It is medium bodied with beautiful acidity.

Wine-Food Pairing: This wine would pair well with baked white fish in a cream sauce.


Made from 90% estate grown Frontenac Blanc and Frontenac Gris, as well as 10% Riesling, this wine is visually stunning with its bright pale yellow colour.  

On the nose, we have pear, honey, lemon zest, and clementine, with a hint of almond. On the palate, we have lemon, pineapple, and honey flavours with just a touch of clementine. There is beautiful harmony between the concentrated flavours and the wonderfully tart acidity.

Wine-Food Pairing: I paired this wine with bacon-wrapped scallops. This wine works well with buttery seafood but is also great on its own.


This best-seller looks beautiful with its ruby reflections.

On the nose, we have a mix of dark and red berries, predominantly blackcurrant, blueberry, and raspberry, followed by violet, and hints of cinnamon, vanilla, and smoke.

On the palate, it is medium bodied with dark berry flavours and a slightly bitter espresso finish.

Wine-Food Pairing: I paired this wine with barbecued pork chops in a raspberry sauce that included fresh raspberries, aged balsamic vinegar, a touch of Cuvée Caroline, and a few dashes of cinnamon.

The food was a  perfect match. The sauce highlighted the beautiful aromas and flavours of this wine.  Both the wine and the food were delicate enough to bring out the best from each other without one overtaking the other.


Made from 75% estate grown Marquette, and a blend of 25% Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Shiraz, this Red has aromas of  black plum, violet, and sour cherry, as well as hints of wet cedar, red licorice, smoke, and roasted cocoa beans.

On the palate, there is tart black plum and sour cherry flavours with a smoky finish. It is medium bodied with wonderful acidity and is truly a lovely wine. This is one of my personal favourites from Etter.

Wine-Food Pairing: I paired this wine with barbecued steak. The smoky profile of both the wine and the steak complemented each other.


I’m on the same page as Jan-Daniel regarding this wine’s tasting notes. I couldn’t help but sampling it myself after hearing such positive feedback. Visually, it is bright and syrupy, with a rich golden yellow colour.

On the nose, there are baked apple and pear aromas, followed by pineapple, honey, and hints of petrol.

On the palate, the apple, pear, pineapple, and honey flavours follow the nose. There is also lemon, clementine, and hazelnut at the finish. The tartness balances the sweetness of this wine perfectly. This is a nice wine to enjoy after dinner.

Wine-Food Pairing: I tried this wine with Jan-Daniel’s recommendation of blue cheese and it was absolutely delicious! The bold flavours of the wine hold up nicely to the powerful flavours of the cheese.